Pandemic a blessing for Tokyo-bound boxer Manish Kaushik | Tokyo Olympics News

CHANDIGARH: In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic triggered a cloud of uncertainty and disappointment in the minds of athletes over the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, but for boxer Manish Kaushik, the delay came as a blessing.
Hailing from India’s ‘Mini Cuba’, (Bhiwani in Haryana), Manish could have missed his Games debut, if the Olympics were held last year as he was yet to recover from the injury he had suffered during the Asia/Oceania Olympic men’s 63 kilogram category qualifiers playoff in March, at Amman, Jordan.
In a contest involving his old nemesis Harrison Garside of Australia, Manish didn’t use his right hand after the opening round and yet recorded a split 4:1 win to secure the ninth Olympic quota for India. In the process, he also avenged his loss to Garside in the 2018 Commonwealth Games final.
“He injured his right hand during the bout, and when he returned home, there was very less chance of him making it to Tokyo if it would have gone ahead as scheduled,” said his elder brother Vipin Kaushik.
“The postponement of the Olympics helped him recover. However, I still remember how he was unable to land punches with his right fist. I had seen tears in his eyes every time he used to hit at the punching bag,” recalled Vipin.
To ensure his speedy recovery, the 2019 World Championships bronze medallist would train an extra session during the afternoons all alone, in addition to the morning and evening sessions like other boxers. Clearly shows the 25-year-old’s commitment for his debut Games.
Cut to 2021, Manish made a remarkable comeback in the Boxam International tournament in style. The light-welterweight pugilist bagged a gold medal by defeating Denmark’s Nikolai Terteryan with a split 3-2 verdict in Spain.
Men’s boxing coach CA Kuttappa had once said, “Manish is a busy boxer in the ring, which really makes it difficult for his opponents to anticipate his moves. He has got the brain and skills of rare good boxers.”
Vijender’s influence
Ask any current generation boxer from Bhiwani, they will have one name in common as their idol, and Manish’s is no different, Vijender Singh. Singh’s 2008 bronze inspired a generation of youngsters take up the sport in the area.
While Manish casually took up boxing, Vijender’s feat instilled in him the passion to wholeheartedly commit to the sport.
“Vijender’s influence has been massive, Manish must be around 12 when Vijender picked the bronze in Beijing. He had brought in a revolution of sorts, many youngsters including Manish started taking up the sport as a career,” Vipin said.
While Manish’s fearlessness and never-say-die attitude makes him a serious medal contender in Tokyo, he is surely aware of the stiff competition in his weight category. Vipin though , expects his brother to finish on the podium, and join the likes of Vijender and MC Mary Kom as Olympic medallists.
Manish is currently training in Italy with the rest of India’s Olympic-bound boxing contingent. The pugilists are expected to leave for Tokyo from their training base in Assisi on July 17.

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